USA will face one of the surprise performers of the 2019 Gold Cup when they take on Curacao in their quarter-final at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday (8pm ET, live on FS1 / Unimás).
The USMNT made light work of their group to progress to the knockout rounds as group winners with victories over Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Panama, with 11 goals scored and zero conceded. They are the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal.
The competition holders remain second favorites behind Mexico with most of the biggest U.S. bookies, despite the fact that they look to have a more comfortable route to the final. If, as expected, they advance past Curacao, they will come up against Jamaica or Panama in the final four. Mexico must face Costa Rica and then the winner between Canada and Haiti.
If things fall that way, the United States already know that they are capable of defeating Panama after doing so on Wednesday in their final match of the group stage. Jozy Altidore scored the game’s solitary goal not long past the hour mark as an entirely rotated starting XI somewhat labored to create chances in a match that was generally low on shots and goalmouth action.
After utilizing the exact same lineup in each of his team’s first two matches, coach Gregg Berhalter clearly felt it was the right time to give his favored starters a rest. He was left encouraged by what he saw from their replacements. “It was a very physical Panama team, very warm conditions, and I think the guys showed grit and determination,” he said.
One would imagine that almost all of those who started against Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago will return on Sunday given that no one individual really produced a performance against Panama of sufficient quality to displace them. The forward line of Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes and Tyler Boyd will particularly enjoy the opportunity to get back into action against a Curacao side who have surpassed expectations by even making it this far.
Curacao were ranked 128th in the world coming into the tournament by the ELO ratings system, nearly 60 places lower than any of their group-stage opponents. Yet after a 0-1 defeat to El Salvador in their opener, they then produced a 1-0 win over Honduras (the best ranked team, at 61st) and a 1-1 draw with Jamaica to go through in second place. The decisive equalizer against Jamaica was scored deep into second-half stoppage time.
It has been a pretty special couple of years for the team from the Caribbean island that forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 2017, they won the Caribbean Cup for the first time in their history, granting them qualification to the Gold Cup for the first time since the early 1970s. After losing all three of their matches in that 2017 appearance, two years later they find themselves in the last eight, preparing to take on the holders.
The large majority of Remko Bicentini’s squad play in Europe, including 12 in the Netherlands. The star of the show is the Cardiff, ex-Aston Villa, midfielder Leandro Bacuna, who has been directly involved in both of their goals so far at the Gold Cup, with one goal and one assist. Michael Maria is a somewhat familiar face for U.S. fans as he currently plays for USL side Charlotte Independence.
Our Betting Preview’s United States vs Curacao Predictions & Picks Verdict
Curacao have done superbly to get this far and it would be wrong to unduly underestimate them, but Team USA should still have relatively few problems seeing them off and progressing to the final four. Berhalter’s side have already thrashed two Caribbean nations currently ranked outside the top 100 in the world by a combined score of 10-0. They have the necessary quality to similarly pick their way through a Curacao side they last met in the mid-eighties.
The score on that occasion was 4-0 to the U.S. MNT, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they were to prevail by a similar margin on Sunday. Our USA vs Curacao predictions are:
- Bet on United States -2.25 goals on the spread @ -108 with Bookmaker.